Monday, May 30, 2011

"...everything which is yes" (#487-503 of 1000 gifts)

"I thank You God for this most amazing day; for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes." - e.e. cumings

Here is my gratitude photo essay for the week that just was...

487. A wonderful Victoria Day with son, walking the False Creek paths and having ice-cream at Granville Market.

488. A bit of wayside encouragement.

489. Continuing rains and cool weather which means everything is very green and very lush.

490. A lone frog singing his froggy song.

491. Exquisite yellow wildflowers.

492. A lady passerby's peppery perfume.

493. Blossoms everywhere — these on a tree along our walk.

494. Bells.

495. Pink freckles.

496. Currant blossoms from my own back yard. Look at the sassy red tips (anthers, I think they're called) on their stamens.

497. My own little flower garden with all the babies I put to bed on Saturday.

498. The perfect conjunction of some mail needing to go to my nephew Africa and someone to take it.

499. Yesterday a walk along the dyke at the Nico Wynd Golf Course.

Drum roll please — we're halfway to 1000!!!
500. The eagle nest is still there and obviously active with one of the parents standing guard.

501. Broom is in bloom. Can you find the bee?

502. Even grasses are beautiful.

503. A flotilla of five families!


If you'd like to join me and many others collecting One Thousand Gifts, please do. Some members of this gratefulness community post their gifts on blogs, while others list them in private journals. Instructions on how to join are here.


Violet Nesdoly / poems
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Saturday, May 28, 2011

book review: The Boy in Me by Alvin Ens

The Boy In Me is the fictional account of Edgar Schroeder, the prairie boy who, like the book’s author Alvin Ens, grew up in Saskatchewan and then moved to Abbotsford, British Columbia. When Edgar’s 85-year-old mother can no longer live alone in her Saskatchewan home, his siblings volunteer him, a recently retired teacher and new widower, as interim caregiver till a spot in a care home opens up.

The book begins with “Still Waters,” the story of Edgar driving his mother through an Alberta blizzard to her new home with him. Their conversation jogs the first of Edgar’s many memories – reminiscences of his childhood and adolescence – that reveal the boy inside the man.

These spill out in rich chronology as his mother spends the next five months with him. Her question about where he will get ham for the Mennonite kielke noodles she’s making, for example, revives the memory of the days his family spent butchering and preparing their winter meat supply. His promise to cook her some west coast cuisine – a salmon perhaps – brings to mind fishing for goldeyes in the Saskatchewan River. Her query about the cost of his golf equipment reminds him of the hours of fun he and his friends had playing with an inexpensive rubber ball.

Each of the 23 chapters is a self-contained story. Many have been previously published in places like Canadian Stories and several have won prizes. But they feel like one story too, due to the single narrator and his first person telling which ties them together well and makes the book an organic unity.

Ens is a great storyteller, managing to grasp what is going on under the surface, articulate complicated emotions, and describe revealing interactions between characters. In his typical style he often plays with words, extracting every ounce of goodness, like a dog chews a bone. Here, for example, is a paragraph from “Ready” – a story about Edgar and his typing teacher:
“’You have ten minutes for exercise 33 and then we’ll hand it to the person behind you and correct. Are you ready?’ said McCredy the Ready, that battle-ax, Battle X, Battle M. McCredy, the Ready. With her favourite question, ‘Are we all ready?’ McCredy the Ready. McCredy the ready, always ready with her whip. In front of me everyone was typing. What? Had I missed the signal? I typed frantically.” p. 106.
The stories touch on a multitude of themes – parenting and being a parent, discovering yourself, learning values of honesty, truthfulness, compassion, and obedience, and showing how a slide into skepticism doesn’t necessarily mean the end of faith. There is lots of prairie boy risk and delight, adolescent coming of age and first love, with a dessert of adult romance, all garnished with fattening dollops of Mennonite deliciousness.

As someone whose ethnic upbringing is similar to Edgar’s (and Ens’s) I found The Boy In Me resonated on many levels. But its exploration of ageless human themes transcends ethnicity. This novella-length book is pure gold in its detailing of childhood memories, its sly humor and its generous portions of life-wisdom. Readers across ages and backgrounds will delight in these homey stories.

Title: The Boy In Me
Author: Alvin Ens
Publisher: Ensa Publishing, Abbotsford, B.C., paperback, 140 pages
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-9732224-4-9
Price: $15.00


Alvin Ens will be launching The Boy In Me at a Blue Moon Reading (MSA Poets Potpourri Society)
Launch Details

Monday, May 30th
Clearbrook Library,
32320 George Ferguson Way
Abbotsford, B.C.
6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Copies of The Boy In Me will be for sale at the event.
$15.00 ($12.00 for MSA PPS members)

Order by email.

Or order by surface mail:

Alvin Ens

3947 Paradise Place,

Abbotsford, V2S 8E3

(Add $3.00 for mail delivery.)

Violet Nesdoly / poems
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011


So much fun with the water table! 

Thursday Challenge

Next Week: HOME (House, Favourite Chair, Things that make a house a home,...)

Violet Nesdoly / poems
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Monday, May 23, 2011

continuing abundance (#474-486 of 1000 gifts)

It's really not hard to find and name gifts relating to the week that just was. Summer is on its way and my world is revelling in it!

474. Flowers of purple whimsy. Their petals look like happy little streamers.

475. A doctor checkup where the lab results are going in the right direction (I'm not sick,; it's all scheduled diagnostics and maintenance).

476. Brilliant orange rhodos.

477. Another reminder of the brevity of life. (The man that was killed in the accident is my hubby's cousin. We were planning to get reacquainted with him and his family at a big family reunion this summer...)

478. A glimpse into that family member's salt-of-the-earth contribution to home, community and church (which I experienced second-hand from hubby's enthusiastic report. I minded the home front while he took a whirlwind trip to Saskatchewan to attend the funeral).These humble heroes are all around us too. The challenge is to notice them and appreciate their contributions before they are gone.

479. A little portrait of life — the young and the old.

480. While hubby was gone, I spent about two-thirds of a day cleaning the garage. That felt good!!

481. While digging through a plastic tote, I found my silver baby cup! It's now polished and sitting in a place of honour beside a special photo.

482. Horse chestnuts in bloom.

483. Does heather come in yellow? This cheerful plant looks like yellow heather!

484. My hanging baskets are up (I love the Costco garden centre!).

485. The most romantic of all vines — wisteria — is in bloom.

486. A flowering hippo. Isn't he cute?


If you'd like to join me and many others collecting One Thousand Gifts, please do. Some members of this gratefulness community post their gifts on blogs, while others list them in private journals. Instructions on how to join are here.


Violet Nesdoly / poems
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Wednesday, May 18, 2011


TWO - a very good reason to celebrate!


Thursday Challenge

Next Week: WET (Rain, Puddles, Water,...)

Violet Nesdoly / poems
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Monday, May 16, 2011

spring can take your breath away (#457-473 of 1000 gifts)

I must be sounding awfully redundant as I recite the past seven days' worth of spring's slow creep and the odd social and family event, I thought, as I again contemplated posting this week's gratitude list.  And so a few days ago I went back into the archives and read a half dozen or so weeks of 1000 gifts posts. Surprise! instead of feeling bored, I felt blessed! I hope they strike you the same.

My little review made me realize that this is becoming a log of photos and memories I would not have the discipline to list and blog each week if I weren't for this 1000 gifts challenge — so thank you, Ann. And I carry on!

457. The pink dogwoods are in bloom! (These are just across the street from our house.)

458. Wonderful spring smells

459. This little mailbox vignette along our walking route.

460. A spring-flower arrangement.

461. A yellow bird visited the pine tree in our backyard for about 5 seconds. I was sure he'd be easy to identify, but not so much. Come back yellow bird!

462. Elder blossoms.

463. A gorgeous heart pendant necklace from hubby (for my recent birthday).

464. A coffee evening with friends we met way back in singles in Saskatoon. Love getting together with old friends.

465. Pastels. These rhodos start with tinted blossoms that open to the palest shades of off-white. I think they're actually prettier when they are partly closed.

466. The Buddy Greene special on the Gaither Hour (talk about a man who oozes music!).

467. Saturday we spent the afternoon with friends in West Vancouver. It was gorgeous! (Those West Vancouverites sure are partial to palms!)

468. Love the pink tulips and blue forget-me-notes.

469. Love the orange and blue.

470. Love the green (Bells of Ireland). Notice the two different centres.

471. Our friends took us to this little tended garden along the railway track right-of-way. They formerly lived in the building just behind this and know the woman who tends this garden. She's an octogenarian! Can you believe the clematis (the thickly flowering plant that has taken over the fence)?

472. Grebes. The water was full of them.

473. Beach peas! Bright, wild, and beautiful.


If you'd like to join me and many others collecting One Thousand Gifts, please do. Some members of this gratefulness community post their gifts on blogs, while others list them in private journals. Instructions on how to join are here.


Violet Nesdoly / poems
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